Goodyear is going into 2020 on an upbeat mood, if not quite bullish. Talk around the "commercial" table at Goodyear's 2020 Customer Conference in Aurora, Colorado, suggested that both the corporate side and the dealer network see this year as an opportunity to build on previous initiatives while introducing some new service-oriented offerings.
"We have accomplished a great deal since last year's meeting in Dallas," said Dave Beasley, vice president of North America Commercial. "We outperformed the industry and grew market share in both commercial replacement and OE lines. Through Q3 2019, we grew fleet sales by 5% in a down market, and the Endurance LHS is showing impressive results with fleets."
Beasley said Goodyear has added two key new dealers to its network: Commercial Tire in Chicago and Raben Tires, with operations in five Midwestern states. "This really strengthens our ability to serve or fleet customers in these high-growth markets," said Beasley.
While acknowledging a dropoff in OE sales because of shrinking Class 8 orders, Beasley said that Goodyear expects ton-miles for heavy-duty and medium-duty fleets to continue growing, which is good for replacement tire sales.
"As commerce continues to shift to online, the need for last-mile delivery and more distribution hubs is increasing, creating more complexity than ever," he said. "Add to that, driver shortages, regulations and increased competition. These are all putting pressure on fleets. Fleets are looking for solutions to reduce downtime and to improve costs and Goodyear is built to lead them through this challenge."
On the first day of the conference, Goodyear announced a 19.5-inch version of the Fuel Max RTD (Regional Traction Drive) tire line would be available in the second quarter this year. Targeted toward the last-mile and regional hauling segments, these tires are already compliant with Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards.
"As e-commerce gains traction the regional and urban segments, regional fleets are growing in popularity; there's tremendous opportunity in those segments," noted Cary Budzinski, senior director North America Commercial Sales. "We need to make sure we are investing in regional and urban products to help fleets optimize their cost per mile."
Budzinski spoke of the success and strategic importance of the Goodyear LHS steer tire, on the market for a little more than a year, but already earning converts.
"Steer tires have historically been a struggle for long-haul fleets," he said. That's a challenging and critically important wheel position to the customer. If you get the steer tire business, drive and trailer tire business is sure to follow. The success of the LHS is helping Goodyear win more business with fleets and creating more business for you, the dealers."
The big talk around the conference was indeed the performance of the Endurance LHS. Officially introduced as a high-mileage steer tire in the summer of 2018, fleets are reporting results of 18 months of field evaluations and word is they are pretty happy.
"While some fleets have had the tire in service less than a year, and it takes a year or more to fully run out a steer tire, Parish Transport has run one of our LHS tire out to 237,110 and it still has some meat on its bones," said Devin Dickerhoof, commercial marketing product marketing manager. "Customer testimonials show the average mileage on the tires at this point is 170,000, and it's going up from there. As we get more and more tires out into the field and they have time to run, we are really seeing the number continue to climb."
Service and Insights
Goodyear has been collecting tire data for years, and now that data is being put to work for fleets. Data collected from several sources, including Tire Optix, CheckPoint and TPMS Plus is sent to the Goodyear e-mobility cloud, where its sorted and analyzed.
"Once it hits that analytics platform, we can start putting that collected data to work with predictive capabilities around pressure, temperature and tread wear," said Johnny McIntosh, Goodyear's director of Integrated Solutions and Tire Management Services. "We have been refining those algorithms over the past five years, and we are demonstrating that we can save fleets a lot of cost and unnecessary downtime but staying out ahead of how the tires are performing and alerting fleets to problems."
Meanwhile, Goodyear said it will continue investing in new product development and enhanced testing of new products. The company just made a substantial investment in its San Angelo, Texas, proving grounds, enhancing the extreme wet conditions testing as well as new ways to test industrial OTR tires, used on off-road and construction equipment.
"We recently established a relationship with Sandia National Laboratories, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy," said Steve McClellan, president of Goodyear Americas. "This lab has some of the most advanced computational mechanics capabilities in the world and no other tire company except for Goodyear has access to that expertise. This positions Goodyear to better deliver products, faster."